Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Review of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's 8x23: "Predators And Prey"

Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Artwork by Georges Jeanty

Andrew (re Buffy and the gang): “The thing about the slayer organisation is that we’re not just co-workers. We’re family. The bonds between us are tight and unbreakable. You hurt one of us; you’re taking on all of us. It’s like our guiding principle. Nothing comes between us.”

Out of the all the characters being deemed a solo shot, one I wasn’t looking forward to was one involving Andrew. I’ve mentioned in past reviews that I dislike the character and these comics have done little to change my mind.

However seeing as the writers have thankfully only used him sparingly, I suppose we were due an actual issue where he’d come out to shine and this was the very issue. Everything opened with Andrew talking wistfully about finding a place in the gang that he once schemed against.

I could scoff but given the time period that has passed, there had to be a reason why he was still around. Buffy and company must like him enough to have him trained up as a watcher and entrusted with enough slayers and he was sort of useful during the final days of Sunnydale.

That being said, Andrew’s infectious enthusiasm can be hard to come to grips and that’s certainly evident when Buffy threatened to make him eat a door just because he slammed. The funny part however was Buffy having to apologise to Andrew for her harsh remark.

Of course Andrew does actually have a use and that’s to inform Buffy that one of Simone’s bad slayers has been tracked down. Given that Simone hasn’t been mentioned since “A Beautiful Sunset”, it’s nice to get some continuity on her but don’t expect a resolution that will satisfy you as a reader.

Because of this information, Andrew proposed a road trip and Buffy volunteered herself, despite Xander pointing out the obvious. Would you want to be travelling with Andrew for a lengthy period of time? Points to Buffy for actually thinking that Andrew wouldn’t pose a major problem.

And to be fair, he doesn’t really but he certainly went into overdrive on their journey to Italy. I mean I get that Andrew is enthusiastic about his TV loves and loathes but it would’ve been nice to actually know something about the character’s sexuality.

A lot of viewers (myself included) have been speculating for years that Andrew is gay. His lack of commentary on Daniel Craig in swim trunks could be denial or maybe Andrew actually is asexual. Would the series actually be brave enough to address asexuality in a serious manner without moralising or mockery? Massive points of bravery if they could.

Moving from possible sexual identities, the focus shifted back to Simone. From what I’ve seen, Simone is little more than a mouthy, volatile little idiot has now decided to use the public’s hatred for slayers to her own benefits. Maybe I’m a terrible person but I pretty much want this character killed by the end of the season.

However the other problem Buffy and Andrew faced was saving Nisha from the Ragna demon’s web. A floaty bubblegum pink effect was cute and Nisha’s every bit as unpleasant as her crappy leader. However despite her less than charming bedside manner, she was pretty adept with the Ragna demon’s history.

Another thing she was adept with was telling Buffy in no uncertain terms that Andrew was responsible for the creature existing again. It’s things like this that alienates viewers from sympathising with Andrew. If he knew how dangerous these creatures were, why on Earth did he feel the need to make one?

Okay, I know he wanted to capture Simone and I can’t blame him for that but there were other more logical ways in which he could achieve that objective. Needless to say that Buffy was pretty miffed with him so I suppose the interruption of Simone should’ve been viewed as a good thing really.

Bad girl slayers might make for good adversaries but Simone just doesn’t have the chops of Faith during her heydays or psycho brat Gigi. However she is quick to assault both Andrew and Buffy and when she’s not nerd dissing, she was more than happy to remind both Buffy and Andrew that the public hate slayers.

What’s more annoying is that Simone is pretty efficient for a slayer I can’t muster real interest in. She managed to slap both Buffy and Andrew, throw in some decent insults and hard facts and also rescued both Nisha and the Ragna demon without breaking a sweat. Well she did have magic on her side as well.

As for Andrew, I’m really glad that he does feel guilty for Simone’s descent. While I don’t actually believer he caused it, from what we’ve seen, Andrew hasn’t been all that effective as a watcher. All we’ve seen him do is make some lame Star Wars references and that would drive anyone to distraction after a while, not just Simone.

However it was nice that Buffy didn’t hold him responsible. Some people just can’t handle power and Simone is one of them. She’s let it go to her head that even if she had been assigned a more competent watcher like Giles or Robin, the same outcome would’ve happened.

Plus I even understand why Andrew elected not to be so forthcoming with Buffy over the Ragna demon. Given that “Storyteller” was an incredibly contrived way of attempting to redeem the character; I have to at least believe that since we’ve first seen him that Andrew is genuinely trying to atone.

In Season Seven I had a hard time believing that he cared about the Scoobies and that if given the opportunity, he would end up selling them out to The First Evil. Now I do believe that he cares for them and the fact that Buffy believes in him is also reason to believe it too.

As for Simone, with the world hating slayers and her giving them an increased bad reputation, it’s not surprising that she’d find a nice Italian island to take over. She even managed to scare all of the villagers out of there and as a result, the bloody village looks like it’s been hit by a nuclear bomb.

There are plenty of things you should probably say before going into battle but I’m pretty sure that commenting on your boss’s hairdo and taste in men is not the kind of things I would have in mind but this is Andrew and he does tend to be unpredictable. Buffy surprisingly enough seemed non-plussed by his assessments.

Similarly no-plussed was Simone, who delighted in telling Buffy and Andrew that she was expecting their company. Well, it would have extremely impolite of Buffy not to show up unannounced and share a few lethal smacks with the latest slayer to fall off the wagon.

Simone’s guff about admiring Buffy however was just yawn inducing. I don’t care if Simone does admire Buffy and I’m more than annoyed that Simone continued to justify her actions with the world’s fear of slayers as an excuse. Simone, you’re just a psycho in need of putting down and fast.

Of course Simone does surprise a little in this story. She made the promise of actually stopping if Buffy handed Andrew to her on a platter. Chance of that being genuinely true are slim to none so my bet is that Simone wanted to torture the crap out of Andrew.

Simone’s not the kind of person to take responsibility for her actions and she more or less blamed Andrew, which is rich, given that he really didn’t put her on the path she chose to take. This isn’t a Faith redux. Simone isn’t lacking the support here so her descent doesn’t feel as tragic.

That’s good because it meant that I could watch the fight scenes between Buffy and Simone without feeling the sort of conflict when I used to watch similar scenes with Buffy and Faith. Simone’s arrogance about Buffy being past it made her look like a dunce and then she had to realise that half her slayer army were actually working for Buffy on the sly.

The other massively debateable thing in this issue was Buffy locking Simone and her band of bad girl slayers with a loose Ragna demon. It should be as harsh or as shocking as when Angel locked Holland, Lindsay and Lilah in with Darla and Drusilla in “Reunion” but I’m not sure if it is. Buffy should’ve technically ‘arrested’ Simone, even if she could take on all of the slayers and given the island back to it’s villagers there and then.

The last panel between Buffy and Andrew did serve as a decent coda. He messed up with the Ragna demon but had the good sense to draw up a list of it’s weaknesses for Buffy and he was surprisingly curious when she told him he was part of the family. Although this comic didn’t suddenly convert me into an Andrew fan, at least it didn’t feel forced in terms of the character’s characterisation if you catch my drift.

Also in “Predators And Prey”

The cover I got was with Buffy and Simone duelling. The James Bond styled cover with her and Andrew did look cute though.

Buffy: “Andrew, if you slam that door one more time, I will make you eat it.”
Willow: “Buffy!”
Buffy (to Andrew): “Sorry. That may have come out sounding harsh.”

It seems that Simone has been robbing the odd bank, military base and the occasional hot topic since we last saw her.

Xander (re road trip): “Buff, you sure about this? Hours and hours of travel time with Andrew? Really?”
Buffy: “Come on, he’s matured. I can absolutely handle him.”

Buffy: “You said Daniel Craig. I like Daniel Craig. I get Daniel Craig. He’s so…”
Andrew: “…Gritty and real?”
Buffy: “Um, sure. Oh! And that thing where he’s running on rooftops and cranes? I’ve done that and I was still scared for him.”

Andrew referenced Superman, Star Wars (go figure), Battlestar Galactica, V For Vendetta, the Smurfs and Mad Men of all things. I’m surprised Drew Z. Greenberg didn’t throw in a Dexter reference while he was at it.

Andrew: “Well, well, well, Nisha. I see we’ve gotten ourselves into quite a jam.”
Nisha: “I’m gonna get my foot into quite your ass soon as I’m free, you tiny …”

Simone: “’Beaming’ right, that’s what you Stargate nerds call it?”
Andrew: “It’s Star Trek, hag. Were you not listening to any of my lectures?”

Buffy made a reference to Charlotte Web when she saw the Ragna monster’s web, which was made of pipes.

Andrew: “Can I just point out that I was trying to do the right thing?”
Buffy: “Seriously? This seems like the time? When we’re about to walk in there?”

Simone: “Way I see it, now there are two kinds of people in the world. The ones who fear us so much, they hope someone kills us all and the ones so stupid, they want to be the ones to try. I don’t have much use for either.”
Buffy: “So you think the answer is taking over an island.”

Andrew was wearing a Britannia sweater during his later scenes with Simone and I can’t help but notice that the Ragna demon was depicted victim like in Simone’s captivity.

Buffy: “I’ve been doing this longer than you. Which means I’m more experienced, so you’re done.”
Simone: “And I’m younger than you. Which means I’m faster, so you’re fucked. This one is a real gun.”

Andrew: “But you were right. I lied to you.”
Buffy: “Yeah, you’re part of the family. Get used to screwing up for good reasons. It’s what we do. Swing by when you’ve got the specs written up. We’ll take a look.”
Andrew (to himself): “I’m part of the family?”

The next issue, “Safe” (Faith/Giles return – yay) is out on April 1st. Interesting day to release a comic.

“Predators And Prey” is the kind of issue that might not grab you on first sight. Several reads though and it does improve but I do feel we’re getting off lightly with the fallout of slayers being vilified because of vampires. Hopefully the last two issues will give this arc a stronger/darker end.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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